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Full text of "The legend of the Christ Child : a story for Christmas Eve"

THE LEGEND 



THE CHRIST CHILD 



A STORV FOR CHRISTMAS EVE. 



ADAPTED FROM THE GERMAN 



Elizabeth Harrisox. 



pocsenteo to thi 
Members of the Mother's Department of the Chicago Kindergarten 

College Art Institute. 
Chicago, Chiisimas, iSgi. 



THE LEGEND 



THE CHRIST CHILD 



A STORY FOR CHRISTMAS EVE. 



ADAPTED FROM THE GERMAN 



Elizabeth Harrison'. 



PREStNTCO TO THI 

Members of the Mother's Department of the Chicago Kindergarten 

College Art Institute. 
Chicago, Chtistmas, i8gi. 



THE LEGEND OF THE CHRIST CHILD. 

A STORY FOR CHRISTMAS EVE. 

Adapted from the German. 

I want to tell you to-night a story which has been 
told to little children in Germany for many hundreds 
of years. 

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, on the 
night before Christmas, a little child was wandering all 
alone through the streets of a great city. There were 
many people on the street, fathers and mothers, sisters 
and brothers, uncles and aunts, and even gray-haired 
grandfathers and grandmothers, all of whom were 
hurrying home with bundles of presents for each other 
and their little ones. Fine carriages rolled by, express 
wagons rattled past, even old carts were pressed into 
service, and all things seemed in a hurry and glad with 
expectation of the coming Christmas morning. 

From some of the windows bright lights were al- 
ready beginning to stream until it was almost as bright 
as day. But the little child seemed to have no home 
and wandered about listlessly from street to street. 
No one seemed to notice him, except perhaps Jack 
Frost, who bit his bare toes and made the ends of his 
fingers tingle. The north wind, too, seemed to notice 
the child, for it blew against him and pierced his 
ragged garments through and through, causing him 
to shiver with cold. Home after home he passed, 



looking with longing eyes through the windows, in 
upon the glatl, happy children, most of whom were 
helping to trim the Christmas trees for the coming 
morrow. 

" Surely," said the child to himself, " Where there 
is so much gladness and happiness, some of it may be 
for me." So with timid steps he approached a large 
and handsome house. Through the windows he could 
see a tall and stately Christmas tree already lighted. 
Many presents hung upon it. Its green boughs were 
trimmed with gold and silver ornaments. Slowly he 
climbed up the broad steps and gently rapped at the 
door. It was opened by a tall and stately footman, 
who had on white gloves and shiny shoes and a large 
white cravat. He looked at the little child for a 
moment, then sadly shook his head and said, " Go 
down off the steps. There is no room for such as you 
here." He looked sorry as he spoke ; possibly he re- 
membered his own little ones at home, and was glad 
that they were not out in this cold and bitter night. 
Through the open door a bright light shone, and the 
warm air, filled with the fragrance of the Christmas 
pine, rushed out through the door and seemed to greet 
the little wanderer with a kiss. As the child turned 
back into the cold and darkness, he wondered why 
the footman had spoken so, for surely, thought he, 
those little children would love to have another com- 
panion join them in their joyous Christmas festival. 
But the little children inside did not even know that 
he had knocked at the door. 

The street seemed colder and darker to the child 
than before, and he went sadly forward, saying to 



himself, " Is there no one in all this great city who 
will share this Christmas with me?" Farther and 
farther down the street he went, to where the homes 
were not so large and beautiful. There seemed to be 
little children inside of nearly all the houses. They 
were dancing and frolicking about. There were 
Christmas trees in nearly every window, with beauti- 
ful dolls and trumpets and picture books, and balls, 
and tops, and other nice toys hung upon them. In 
one window the child noticed a little lamb made of 
soft white wool. Around its neck was tied a red rib- 
bon. It had evidently been hung on the tree for one 
of the children. The little wanderer stopped before 
this window and looked long and earnestly at the 
beautiful things inside, but most of all was he drawn to- 
wards this white lamb. At last, creeping up to the 
window pane he gently tapped upon it. A little girl 
came to the window and looked out into the dark 
street where the snow had now begun to fall. She 
saw the child, but she only frowned and shook her- 
head and said, " Go away and come some other time. 
We are too busy to take care of you now." Back into 
the dark, cold street he turned again. The wind was 
whirling past him and seemed to say, " Hurry on, 
hurry on, we have no time to stop. 'Tis Christmas 
eve and everybody is in a hurry to-night." 

Again and again the little child rapped softly at 
door, or window pane. At each place he was refused 
admission. One mother feared he might have some 
ugly disease which her darlings would catch ; another 
father said he had only enough for his own children, 
and none to spare for beggar brats. Still another told 



him to go home where he belonged, and not to trouble 
other folks. 

The hours passed ; later grew the night, and colder 
blew the wind, and darker seemed the street. Farther 
and farther the little one wandered. There was 
scarcely anyone left upon the street by this time, and 
the few who remained did not seem to see the child, 
when suddenly ahead of him there appeared a bright, 
single ray of light. It shone through the darkness 
into the child's eyes. He looked up smiling and said, 
" I will go where the little light beckons, perhaps they 
will share their Christmas with me." 

Hurrying past all the other houses he soon reached 
the end of the street and went straight up to the window 
from which the light was streaming. It was a poor, 
little, low house, but the child cared not for that. The 
light seemed still to call him in. What do you sup- 
pose the light came from ? Nothing but a tallow 
candle which had been placed in an old cup with a 
broken handle, in the window, as a glad token of 
Christmas eve. There was neither curtain nor shade 
to the little square window, and as the little child look- 
ed in he saw standing upon a small wooden table a 
branch of a Christmas tree. The room was plainly 
furnished, but was very clean. Near the fire-place sat a 
lovely faced mother with a little two-year old on her 
knee and an older child beside her. The two children 
were looking into their mother's face and listening to 
a story. She must have been telling them a Christmas 
story, I think. A few bright coals were burning in the 
fire-place, and all seemed light and warm within. 

The little wanderer crept closer and closer to the 



â– window pane. So sweet seemed the mother's face, so 
loving seemed the little children, that at last he took 
courage and tapped gently, very gently, on the door. 
The mother stopped talking, the little children looked 
up. "What was that mother?" asked the little girl at her 
side. *'I think it was some one tapping on the door," 
replied the mother. '"Run as quickly as you can and 
open it, dear, for it is a bitter cold night to keep any 
one waiting in this storm." "Oh, mother, I think it 
was the bough of the tree tapping against the window 
pane," said the little girl, "Do please go on with our 
story." Again the little wanderer tapped upon the 
door. "My child, my child," exclaimed the mother 
rising, "That certainly was a rap on the door. "Run 
quickly and open it. No one must be left out in the 
cold on our beautiful Christmas eve." 

The child ran to the door and threw it wide open. 
The mother saw the ragged stranger standing without, 
cold and shivering, with bare head and almost bare 
feet. She held out both hands and drew him into the 
warm bright room. -'Oh, you poor, dear child, come 
in as quickly as you can, and get warm! Where did you 
come from, and where are you going? Have you no 
home? Have you no mamma? Have you no Christ- 
mas to celebrate. 

The mother put her arms around the strange child, 
and drew him close to her breast. "He is very cold, 
my children," said she. "We must warm him and 
feed him, and give him some clothes." "And," added 
the little girl, "we must love him and give some of our 
Christmas, too." "Yes," said the mother, "but first 
let us warm him." 



So she sat down beside the fire with the child on her 
lap, and her own two little ones warmed his half-frozen 
hands in their own, and the mother smoothed his tan- 
gled curls, and bending low over his head, kissed the 
child's face. She gathered the three little ones to- 
gether in her arms and the candle and the firelight shone 
over them, and for a few moments the room was very 
still. Then the mother whispered to the little girl, 
and the child ran (luickly into the next room and soon 
returned with a roll of bread and a bowl of milk which 
had been set aside for her own breakfast the next 
morning. 

The little two-year-old, who had slipped away from 
his mother's side, was happy that he, too, could help 
the little stranger by bringing the wooden spoon from 
the table. By and by the little girl said softly to her 
mother, " May we not light the Christmas tree, and 
let this little child see how beautiful it will look?" 
" Yes," said the mother. With that she seated the 
child on a low stool beside the fire, and went herself 
to fetch the few simple ornaments which from year to 
year she had saved for her children's Christmas treis. 
They were soon busy preparing the tree and lighting 
the candles. So busy were they that they did not notice 
that the room had filled with a strange and beautiful 
light. They turned and looked at the spot where the 
little wanderer sat. His ragged clothes had changed 
to garments white and beautiful. His tangled curls 
seemed like a halo of golden light about his head, but 
most beautiful of all was his face, which shone with a 
light so dazzling that they could scarcely look upon it. 

In silent wonder they gazed at the child. Their 



little room seemed to grow larger, the roof of their 
low house seemed to expand and rise, until it reached 
the sky. With a sweet and gentle smile the beautiful 
child looked upon them for a moment and then slowly 
rose and floated through the air, above the tree tops, 
beyond the church spire, higher even than the clouds 
themselves, until he appeared to them to be a shining 
star in the sky above, and at last he disappeared from 
sight. . The wondering children turned in hushed awe 
to their mother and said in a whisper, " Oh, mother, 
it was the Christ Child, was it not?" And the 
mother said in a low tone, " Yes." 

And so, they say, each Christmas Eve the little 
Christ Child wanders through some town or village, 
and those who receive him and take him into their 
homes and hearts have given to them this marvelous 
vision which is denied to others.